Post Style: Collector's Lot

The Birmingham Post (England), June 16, 2004 | Go to article overview

Post Style: Collector's Lot


Byline: Colin & Justin

Personalising your home is a finely tuned balancing act -not enough 'you' items and it could feel impersonal. Too much 'you', however, and visitors could feel swamped by overbearing personality. And we speak from first hand experience; only this week, while filming our new series for five, we met up with a Folkestone couple who found themselves sharing a tiny two bed terrace with all manner of curious collectibles. There were a hundred or so souvenir plates, assembled, it transpired, from every holiday they'd ever had. Some came from Butlins or Tenerife while others were from Skegness or Ibiza.

Next up was a collection of Swarovski Crystal -perhaps 250 intricate gems taking the form of cats, ducks and even goldfish.

Another particularly dated collection were the ceramic houses featuring virtually every architectural style -yup there were bungalows, mansions, village shops, thatched cottages and even one particularly frightening china effigy depicting a Glasgow tenement block.

We struck a deal with the owners -we'd completely overhaul their house but in return they'd have to agree to rid themselves of their OCD predilections by donating the entire kit and caboodle to charity. After much gnashing of teeth (and a few tears!) we agreed that they could keep the shocking Swarofski and a couple of pieces of Lladro. You'll see the results when we broadcast in mid July...

But collecting. What's it all about and what are the most popular collections? In short, everything. There are certain common denominators such as stamps, coins and teapots, or even Franklin Mint plates and Barbie Dolls.

Some collections, however, are more unusual; consider a girlfriend of ours who collects 'trophies' from previous boyfriends -pants, combs, CDs, whatever.

People, of course, collect different things for different reasons, though, curiously, there is commonality across gender with women collecting for aesthetic or sentimental reasons while men tend to concentrate on market value or one-upmanship.

While our own collecting compulsions may have dissipated of late, we too have been previously guilty of themed stock piling. Justin's collection, now fortunately arrested and donated in its entirety to Oxfam, was particularly odd. Playing cards. About three hundred sets to be precise. London Bridge packs, comedy cards, Trumps, Snoopy and, erm, Polly Pocket. Cards withornithological leanings, a deck from the official Tomorrow People fanclub and much much more. It was only after getting rid of the unusual assortment that he reluctantly whispered a story. As a 13-year-old, while at school in Fort William, Justin missed the opportunity for his first TV appearance as Collector of the Week on Noel Edmund's Swap Shop. Denied (or rather saved?) the experience by a family holiday which coincided with Edmund's Lochaber arrival, he later suffered the indignity of watching his school friend Richard and his boring collection of earthenware bottles starring on a stage that should rightfully have been his.

The playing card obsession was certainly unusual in comparison to Colin's somewhat tamer interest; an assortment of vintage cameras amassed over the last decade. From Kodak Brownies, to early Mamiya's, they still occupy shelf space today in our Glasgow home. Together, we've hoarded a veritable Caithness paperweight mountain and dozens of LED watches. Not to mention a shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos blush. Our garage currently bulges with approximately four hundred pairs of beautiful footwear, most of which we could never aspireto wearing because of size. Just you try squeezing size eleven feet into a pair of size four Buffaloes previously owned by Scary Spice! Blimey -it's all coming out now.

Our most recent acquisition is a pair by Jimmy Choo exclusively designed for an ad campaign for Midlands made Amtico flooring. Bought by us at auction when we launched the company's new design studio in Islington last month, the shoes are currently wrapped in tissue until we make it back to Glasgow to position them in the space the rest of the collection currently shares with three disassembled Citroen 2CV's that we promise to put back together in future. …

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